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Pilgrim Bottle

Asian Art

This so-called “pilgrim bottle” is based on the form of a sheepskin water pouch that was carried by travelers in northern China and Mongolia. Similar flat-sided water bottles, often suspended by a cord, were also popular in ancient Roman times. The design of this bottle represents the integration of earlier motifs and techniques—like the peony and the green lead glaze—from the Tang dynasty with the shape of leather water pouches from Liao nomadic culture. Peonies, here delicately incised on the front of the bottle, are closely associated with royalty because the flower had been grown in the imperial gardens of the Sui and Tang dynasties. The peony is often called the “flower of wealth and honor,” used to symbolize those two attributes and high rank.
MEDIUM Earthenware, green glaze
  • Place Made: China
  • DATES 907-1125
    DYNASTY Liao Dynasty
    PERIOD Liao Dynasty
    DIMENSIONS 10 9/16 in. (26.8 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Asian Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 50.162
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Horace O. Havemeyer, by exchange
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Pilgrim Bottle, 907-1125. Earthenware, green glaze, 10 9/16 in. (26.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Horace O. Havemeyer, by exchange, 50.162. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 50.162_bw.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 50.162_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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     <em>Pilgrim Bottle</em>, 907-1125. Earthenware, green glaze, 10 9/16 in. (26.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Horace O. Havemeyer,  by exchange, 50.162. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 50.162_bw.jpg)